OK, I didn’t expect that.
Yes, the Lynx had beaten Phoenix five times already this season – four by more than 10 points. But I really felt that a new coach, a new dedication to defense and the confidence of coming off their upset of Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs would make them a tough beat tonight.
But the Lynx rolled. Just rolled.
Maybe it’s matchups. The Mercury is big, but they struggle to guard the trio of Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus. Before the series, the Lynx felt this was a good matchup for Whalen, that Moore would get her points and that they needed Augustus to be intense on both ends of the floor.
Check, check and check.
With Phoenix misplaying the pick and roll all night, Whalen got things going with 10 first-quarter points. And then the rest joined in. The big three were a combined to go 25-for-42 for 58 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
Here are some other thoughts on the game:
--Augustus – with liberal help off the bench from Monica Wright – did a great job on Diana Taurasi tonight. Taurasi scored 15 points, but she shot 4-for-14. She had two assists, four turnovers. By the end of the game she was beside herself with frustration, leading to that little shoving match with Augustus early in the fourth quarter.
--Janel McCarville and Rebekkah Brunson did a great job on Brittney Griner. Griner scored 13 points and shot 50 percent (6-for-12). But she was pushed out of position, harassed on her shot, and really never a factor. Brunson and McCarville each had two blocks. The Lynx finished with seven overall.
--Very big play by the bench tonight. Wright scored 11 points and played some nice defense. Devereaux Peters played nearly 20 minutes, playing nice post defense, getting five rebounds and four points.
--Two key cogs for the Mercury – DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree were complete no-shows. They combined to score eight points on 3-for-17 shooting. They also had five turnovers.
--The two teams combined to shoot 4-for-29 on three-pointers.
The Lynx will take Friday off, practice Saturday morning, then fly to Phoenix. Game 2 is Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Have a great weekend.